Secret Southern Couture   

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Select Wines that Match Your Style

For a novice, simply distinguishing a wine preference – white or red, sweet or dry – may be the extent of his or her comfort level. However, a more experienced wine enthusiast knows there is an entire world to explore when it comes to discovering interesting wine styles.

For example, winemakers in the Spanish wine regions of Ribera del Duero and Rueda draw on hundreds of years of history perfecting the art of winemaking. Together, these regions produce an array of flavorful, full-bodied reds and crisp, refreshing white wines. Recently, these regions have garnered attention for their wines’ value and versatility, making them solid choices for someone looking to explore and develop his or her palate without breaking the bank.

“The wines of Ribera del Duero are generally made in a more generous, international style that would make them a natural transition for a traditional drinker of Cabernet Sauvignon,” said Brahm Callahan, master sommelier and Ribera del Duero y Rueda ambassador. “The same can be said for Rueda. The wines have bright, ripe fruit, great weight and texture, and offer an excellent alternative for someone who likes Sauvignon Blanc.”

Ribera del Duero
There are 300 wineries in Ribera del Duero, which surrounds the Duero River for 100 miles across the region. The semi-arid terrain and climate create optimal ripening conditions for the Tempranillo grapes that define the region’s wines’ distinctive character. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, the big, rich, bold red wines of the region may be to your liking.
  • For the party host: A highly rated red that is soft juicy and impressively flavorful is sure to impress guests. Encourage guests to explore beyond their go-to with a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.  
  • For the gift-giver: For a special occasion (either as a reward for yourself or someone else), the critically acclaimed Vega Sicilia Unico is a quality choice. This wine boasts the perfect proportion of fruit (plums and berries), tannins and acidity for a true splurge.
  • For the casual wine drinker: A clean, bright blush rosé with notes of raspberries and strawberries is an enjoyable option throughout the day, from brunch to cocktail hour and onto the patio at twilight.
One of the hallmarks of Rueda’s refreshing white wines is versatility. With just the right amount of fruit and a refreshing finish, wines from Rueda are clean, bright and complex, yet effortlessly drinkable. The region is home to 70 wineries clustered on the plateau of Castilla y Leon at a high altitude of about 2,300-2,600 feet above sea level. The difficult growing environment, mineral-filled gravel soils and abundance of sunshine help create a crisp white wine with character.
  • For the environmentalist: If organic and sustainable winemaking appeals to you, Menade Verdejo is well-known as a flavorful wine made with the environment in mind. These fifth-generation sibling winemakers are pioneers in organic viticulture with an organic certification for their winery and vineyard.
  • For the bubble lover: Light bubbles are perfect alone or paired with fish and fruits, and a varietal featuring the Verdejo grape is a less common but delightful way to enjoy a little bubbly.  
  • For the warm weather enthusiast: A crisp, refreshing glass of an option likeVerdejo offers minerality and intense fruit flavors to unveil an intense palate with a refreshing acidity that is ideal for a hot day.
Learn more about the region and its wines at

Monday, April 2, 2018

A New Look at Salads for Weight Loss

When most of us think of dieting, we think of salads. And often, we think of nothing but lettuce on a plate, three times a day. While it's true that salads are a classic dieter's food for good reason - after all, they can be filling and have a satisfying crunch - the idea of a plate piled with lettuce and nothing but lettuce is a thing of the past.

Salads can be amazingly versatile, and even so high in calories that you might want to avoid certain types of salad if you want to lose weight! (A classic example of a fattening salad is one containing breaded, fried chicken, fatty dressing, cheese, and/or bacon.)

So let's get away from the all-lettuce plate and the fatty, high-calorie salad and explore the realm of fresh, interesting, tasty salads that may help you with your weight-loss efforts. Here are some ideas.

1. Nuts and seeds

Walnuts, pecans, and almonds lend themselves nicely to salads, and they add healthy fats, crunch, flavor, and nutrients. Sunflower, hemp, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) also add their own nutritious crunch. So many combinations can be created with various nuts, greens, fruits, and healthy dressings.

2. Whole grains

A whole grain salad can be very tasty, and a nice dish for a hot day or sunny picnic. Classics like tabouli, a Middle Eastern dish made with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, and cucumbers, are filling and healthy. Leftover brown rice can be tossed with vegetables and oil-and-vinegar dressing, and whole grain pasta salads are also healthy choices.

3. Legumes

Beans and legumes add protein and nutrients to salads. You can cook flavorful beans and serve them over a bed of greens, or simply mix various types of beans with a tasty dressing and serve them over a bed of whole grain (or just serve them in a bowl as-is).

A New Look at Salads for Weight Loss

4. Lean meats

Incorporating lean meats into your salad boosts the protein content, thus helping you to feel full longer and even have more energy. Slices of cold, lean beef go well with a few blue cheese crumbles, and lean turkey can be tossed in with pecans and a fruity vinaigrette. Fish can also do well in salads - try mixing tuna with cannellini beans and tomatoes for a new type of tuna salad. Cold, grilled salmon can enhance a Caesar-themed salad.

5. Main dish salads

Have you thought about salads as a main dish? Whole grain salads can do very well as a main dish. Pasta salads can come in all kinds of varieties with different ethnic themes - Oriental rice noodle salad, for example, is very different from Greek pasta salad. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

$250 Visa Gift Card or Cash Giveaway

It is nearly summer and to help celebrate the warmth and travels to come, we wanted to help ease that burden a little bit with a Cash Giveaway!

Want to win an $250 Visa Gift Card or Cash?

To enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway Giveaway is open worldwide, age 18+ only. Entry period ends on June 30, 2018. Visit Giveaway Terms & Conditions for additional details and rules.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mindsets that Lead to Low Self-Confidence and How to Change Them

If you suffer from low self-confidence, you might be stuck in some negative mindsets that are affecting the way you think about yourself and, ultimately, your self-esteem. Negative mindsets tend to have a lot of "always" or "never" talk, creating a sense of entrapment and hopelessness. Here are some examples of negative mindsets that can lead to low confidence.

"I will never get it right."

Thinking this way can keep you from trying again, or even trying something for the first time. It makes it only too easy to give up.

"Nobody understands what this is like."

When you lack self-confidence, a lot of times you assume that everyone else has it together and you're the odd man or woman out. You may feel isolated, and feel as if others have their lives together while you are still floundering.

"I am totally useless."

When you lack confidence, you may feel like you don't have anything of value to contribute, whether it's to your workplace, relationships, or something else.

"I am a complete failure."

No one fails at every single thing; but to a person with low self-confidence, it can sure seem that way. You may feel like everything you've ever tried has failed, even if this is not true.

"I could never do that."

Do you see someone with a successful lifestyle you wish you had? If you lack self-confidence, you may have the above reaction. Instead of being inspired and wanting to create that lifestyle for yourself, you look at that person and get depressed, thinking you could never have what they have.

How Can These Mindsets Be Overcome?

In order to overcome these destructive mindsets that lead to low confidence, it's necessary to reprogram your thought processes. You will need to pay attention to your negative self-talk and immediately change it to something positive.

For example, instead of "I will never get it right," you could stop that thought in its tracks and think instead, "I have trouble with this, but if I keep trying and seek out the right help, I know I can succeed." Rather than, "I could never do that," think, "I would love to do that! There's no reason why I can't have that lifestyle if I work at it."

You may need therapy and/or counseling to overcome these mindsets. But like everything else in life, you can do it if you set realistic goals and have confidence in yourself!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Healthy Eating for the Whole Family

Does this describe your family? You cook a different food for each member of the family three times a day, and your spouse and kids each have something they "won't eat" or "must eat" at every meal. If you served a meal that everyone liked, it would have to be something deep fried or maybe pizza. It can be challenging to get members of your family on the same page regarding eating healthy foods.

Healthy Eating for the Whole Family

Some people may wonder why you should even bother getting everyone in the family on board with healthy eating. Here are some reasons why it's nice to have a common view of foods among family members:

  • It's less frustrating and stressful for the cook and grocery shopper if everyone agrees and eats healthy foods. It's also easier on the wallet - you don't have to buy several different foods.
  • You have a support network in place in case you have trouble keeping your healthy eating habits, or if you need help with the grocery shopping. If everyone's in agreement about what's healthy and what isn't, any family member can run to the store and buy the healthy options.
  • There is just a lot more harmony when mealtimes are not filled with frustration and complaining.

There's no magic formula for getting everyone to agree on what's healthy and actually care about it, but there are little things you can do. Here are some ideas.

1. Persist

It's been shown that serving a previously-rejected food over and over, in different forms, may result in eventual acceptance. This applies to children and spouses.

2. Veggies in disguise

You can hide vegetables in a lot of things, although this does not necessarily promote health awareness among family members. It might, though, once you tell them that the spaghetti sauce had pureed carrots and squash in it, or that the pizza had finely chopped broccoli sprinkled on it. They may find that they like veggies after all. Here are some more tips for hiding veggies:

  • Put jarred spaghetti sauce into the blender and add some raw or steamed veggies of your choice; blend until smooth. You can use this "doctored" spaghetti sauce for pizza sauce, too.
  • Add finely-chopped veggies to pizza topping. Spinach, broccoli, green peppers, and onions are good ones to try.

3. Small steps

There's no need to be a member of the food police - you don't have to go through the house and throw out every unhealthy thing and replace it with healthy foods. That may create rebellion among the family members! Instead, start with one thing, like bread. Start making your own bread, or switch to whole wheat store-bought bread. Then you can move on to another item, like switching from peanut butter with added sugar and fat to natural peanut butter.

4. Encourage participation

Spouses and kids can learn to cook and shop for food together. Maybe your spouse likes to cook out; ask him or her to make some special, healthy meals on the grill. You and your kids could grow some of your own food together - even one or two veggies your kids help grow should encourage them to eat "their" vegetables. Let your kids help you in the kitchen (as far as is practical), and brag on their efforts at the table.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Budgeting Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle

From the cost of gym memberships to prepping healthier meals, living well can be expensive. Before you abandon your goals for a healthier lifestyle, consider these tips that show you don't have to overspend to live a better life.

Plan Your Meals 

An impromptu visit to the grocery store inevitably ends up costing more than a well-planned trip. Get organized by planning your meals and grocery list ahead of time to help save money and find ways to use healthy ingredients across multiple meals. Plus, preparing meals at home helps ensure you can eat the foods you want, rather than settling for something because it’s the only sensible option on the menu at a restaurant. Another option is taking advantage of the premeasured portions of healthy meal boxes, which can help you skip the prep time and avoid wasting unused groceries.

Weigh Your Workout Options 

A gym membership may be a tempting investment when you’re trying to commit to a get-fit regimen, but it’s not always the smartest move money-wise. If you can discipline yourself to use it, investing in at-home equipment may be a better long-term buy. There are also plenty of ways to add exercise at no cost through activities like running, walking or practicing yoga in your living room.

Invest in Rest 

Eating better and increasing physical activity are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, but so is giving your body a chance to rest. Quality sleep lets your body and mind heal and rejuvenate from everyday activity, and better sleep is likely to reduce your stress level while improving your mental function and mood. There’s no better way to show yourself some love than with a good night’s rest, but according to research from Mattress Firm, 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “fair.”

Additional research shows that 64 percent of people experience improved sleep quality after investing in a new mattress. As the nation’s largest bedding retailer, Mattress Firm’s purchasing power translates to affordable prices and a wide selection of mattresses and bedding accessories, which can help you stretch your budget further. Find more sleep tips and budget-friendly ideas at

Rethink Checkups 

When it comes to medical care, office visits can add up. If you just need basic medical attention such as a checkup, a physical or a remedy for a common illness, a retail clinic may be a more cost-effective option than a traditional doctor’s office. Many insurance carriers offer an incentive for retail clinic visits by offering discounted co-pays, or if you’re paying out of pocket, the retail clinic can be a big money saver.

A healthier lifestyle requires commitment and hard work, but as these tips prove, creating a better life doesn’t have to mean overhauling your budget.

SOURCE: Mattress Firm

Monday, February 26, 2018

Tips for Organizing Your Makeup Drawer

Every woman has that one drawer or bin in their bathroom stuffed full of makeup. Organizing Your Makeup Drawer is easy, fun and can make your morning routine so much easier. A few simple tricks, items and reminders will keep your makeup all together for easy access! No more struggle to find the right eye liner, or fear about how old your makeup is. These tips will help you stay on top of your makeup drawer with ease.

Invest In Drawer Organizers: There are tons of makeup organizers out there, but if you use a traditional bathroom drawer to store your makeup, then you know that a simple desk organizer can work wonders. Look for slim trays to hold things like makeup brushes, eyeliner, lip liner and pencils. Find small square containers to house eye shadows and blushes. Foundation, blending sponges, powders and miscellaneous tools can be dropped into shallow boxes or trays as well.

Mark With Date Opened So You Know When To Toss: Keep a permanent marker in your makeup drawer to write the date you open something on the package. This will help you stay on top of when an item should be thrown away. Remember, most makeup products should be thrown away between 6-9 months after opened and first used. This is for your safety. Old makeup can break down and easily cause skin irritation, as well as hold onto germs and bacteria.

Keep Daily Use Products In The Front & Other Items In the Back:
When you begin organizing, keep things like your daily sunscreen, moisturizer, foundation, powder and mascara all near the front for those days when you just add a bit of makeup and run. Items like specialty shadows, eye liners or makeup meant for specific events can be stored closer to the back of your drawer.

The biggest part of organizing your makeup drawer is getting rid of the junk you no longer use or need. Keep like items together, commonly used items in front and specialty items separate in the back of the drawer. As long as you continue to put things back in their place each day, your makeup drawer will stay neat and orderly.